What You Need To Know Before Shopping For Aluminum Truck Caps
Aluminum truck caps, truck toppers, call them whatever you like. They can certainly come in handy when you need to move a lot of cargo in a pickup while keeping it protected from wind and rain. They can also do a lot to make your pickup more attractive and fuel efficient. But how do you choose from among all the aluminum truck caps for sale today? How do you even know if you should be shopping for aluminum truck caps instead of, say, fiberglass?
We’ll assess the strengths and weaknesses of some of the best-selling aluminum truck caps on the market for modern pickups. We’ll address several factors – including aluminum truck caps price. We’ll also look at several alternatives to the truck cap system entirely, including a few stylish and secure mobile storage products from DECKED.
What Is An Aluminum Truck Bed Cap?
Aluminum truck caps or truck toppers are large shells that fit over the bed of your pickup truck to cover and protect the cargo area. They make your pickup look a lot more like an SUV, and generally improve your fuel efficiency through decreasing your wind resistance and drag. Most have windows on the side to let in light, and most have a rear hatch that opens up and out, mirroring the way your tailgate opens down and out.
Aluminum truck bed caps are meant to do four things, primarily.
First, they cover and protect your truck bed and anything inside it. Almost every truck topper on the market today is essentially weatherproof. If you remember to close it (and don’t leave the windows open), it will keep the bed dry in most weather.
Second, aluminum truck caps (as well as those made of other materials) improve your truck’s aerodynamics, and therefore its fuel efficiency on the highway. An open pickup bed causes a great deal of drag and turbulence at high speeds, and making the vehicle more streamlined means you won’t be burning quite as many dinosaurs fighting the wind.
Third, aluminum truck caps should lock securely, and protect anything in your bed from thieves or curious but unauthorized looky-loos. If the topper is well made, well installed, and has a proper lock, getting inside is a lot more difficult than reaching in or pulling a tonneau cover aside. Of course, a thief could still break a window or lever the hatch off with a crowbar.
Fourth, aluminum truck caps should make your truck look nice. Ideally, it will match or at least suit your paint job, and its shape should be complementary to the shape of your truck – you wouldn’t put a hard-lines-and-angles topper from the late 80s on a curved pickup from the last few years, for example.
Aluminum Truck Caps VS Fiberglass
There are plenty of non-aluminum truck caps sold every day. The next most common material is fiberglass… But which is better? Like most choices, the real answer is “it depends.”
Aluminum truck caps offer some amazing features. Aluminum as a material is strong, resilient, and does not rust. It is also very light, which again helps with your fuel efficiency. If it does take a hard impact, aluminum is slightly flexible, and will dent rather than break. A dented truck topper isn’t pretty, but it is a lot more attractive and usable than a fiberglass topper with a big, jagged crack. Aluminum also has the advantage of being easy to recycle.
Fiberglass is a good material as well, though. It is nearly as light as aluminum. It is very strong for its weight, and it will not dent. It won’t shatter – it’s not a pane of glass, but it will rip and fragment if it is subjected to enough abuse. It is possible to repair a fiberglass truck topper, though the process is difficult and expensive. Most users choose to replace damaged fiberglass vehicle accessories. Fiberglass is not easily recycled, either.
Leer Aluminum Truck Caps
Leer has been making aluminum products for decades, including everything from ladders to truck accessories. They are very well known for their aluminum truck caps.
Leer 100XR Aluminum Truck Caps
The Leer 100XR is a cab-height truck topper that fits many of the most popular pickups sold today, and is available in colors to match most factory paint options. It is as at home on a working vehicle as it is protecting your gear on camping or fishing trips, and its windows open and close securely – letting you ventilate the bed as needed for pets or camping, and also seal out weather and thieves.
Leer 100XQ Aluminum Truck Caps
Like the 100XRs, Leer 100XQ aluminum truck caps offer secure, weatherproof protection of the beds of today’s most popular pickup trucks. Its windows are integrated, one-piece units for extra security and durability. The hatch lock is also excellent.
Leer 100XQ Sport Aluminum Truck Caps
The 100XQ Sport is very similar to the 100XQ, of course. The main difference is the addition of a small rear spoiler, roof racks for extra cargo capacity, a frameless hidden hinge for the back hatch, and a tube light for inside the cab. It is available for many of today’s most popular makes and models, and designed to integrate seamlessly.
Aluminum Commercial Truck Caps
Who makes the best aluminum commercial truck caps? That depends on what you need the topper to actually do. Leer is a major manufacturer of aluminum commercial truck caps, but as you’ll see, there are many other fine names out there.
Leer DCC Aluminum Truck Caps
Leer makes several models of the DCC line to match almost all of the commercial vehicles out there today. They feature TIG-welded frames, sturdy .035 aluminum panels, and a range of different internal configurations suitable to many different industries and purposes.
A.R.E Classic Aluminum Truck Caps
A.R.E makes several aluminum commercial truck caps, including their DCU, DCU Max, and Diamond Edition DCU lines. The most noticeable feature of the DCU aluminum truck caps are the three access hatches. Everything but the roof opens up to give you access to the bed, or to various drawers and storage options inside. And because your tools and equipment are your lifeblood, they all lock securely.
Milron Aluminum Commercial Truck Caps
Milron aluminum commercial truck caps are made to fit a wide range of 6-foot and 8-foot truck beds. They are solidly made of 5052 aluminum, and powder coated to make the already corrosion-resistant aluminum virtually immortal. Milron claims that its aluminum commercial truck caps are 50% lighter and list 3 times as long as any competitor’s steel or fiberglass truck caps, and we don’t doubt them at all.
Tall Aluminum Truck Caps
Leer 122 Tall Aluminum Truck Caps
Leer 122 tall aluminum truck caps are amazingly versatile and spacious. They feature an aerodynamic design which offers less wind resistance than any other topper of its size and height. It is tall enough to house most bikes and motorcycles, with 8 inches more height than cab-high designs. Other features include a recessed 3rd brake light, an integrated fuse box, easy installation, and 50/50 sliding windows.
A.R.E Tall Aluminum Truck Caps
A.R.E. offers its Walk-In-Door series of tall aluminum truck caps, featuring full hatch doors, all-glass access hatches, improved visibility, and special features which make it perfect for camping or transporting tall cargo.
Is It Worth Buying Used Aluminum Truck Caps?
With all the used aluminum truck caps for sale right now, you have to consider whether buying used is safe, and likely to give you a product you are happy with. First off, aluminum is a very durable material, and the way it oxidizes is exactly opposite to iron or steel. When steel rusts, the oxidation draws in more water and accelerates the rusting. When aluminum oxidizes, the aluminum oxide forms a seal which water cannot penetrate.
So used aluminum truck caps are going to be a better buy than used steel truck toppers, all else being equal. However, a used piece of equipment will hardly ever be in perfect shape. Just use your judgement, and make sure you actually like what you see – and never buy anything used without inspecting it personally!
Where Can I Find Aluminum Truck Caps For Sale Near Me?
Leer, A.R.E, and the other manufacturers we’ve looked at today all have websites, of course. They are also sold at dealerships and truck accessory stores all over North America. However, before you go shopping for aluminum truck caps, we’d like you to take a closer look at what DECKED and a few other manufacturers have to offer. It won’t cost you anything to look at DECKED, and you might be surprised at what you find.
Alternatives To Aluminum Truck Caps
You have many different options, and I don’t mean just opting for a fiberglass or steel topper. There are plenty of options that allow you to leave the topper off entirely, or to mount a more secure tool and gear storage solution in the bed, under your topper of choice.
The DECKED Drawer System – Complete Bed Protection With Or Without A Truck Cap
The DECKED Drawer System streamlines your truck bed, giving you a similar level of aerodynamics to a tonneau cover, and even better than many aluminum truck caps. Better still, it can be installed under almost any truck cap, so you get the best of both worlds.
The DECKED Drawer System is composed of a protective over-bed surface, several “ammo box” style storage sections and of course, the drawers themselves. These are bed-length drawers mounted at waist height for easy access. They can each hold up to 1,000 pounds of tools or gear, and open smoothly even at full capacity. They also came with a few tool and gear organization pieces, and more can be ordered from the DECKED website.
The structure is heavily reinforced with steel and aluminum, but the majority of the DECKED Drawer System is made of our unique high density polymer resin. This resin is hard-wearing, proof against UV radiation, and very easy to recycle.
The DECKED Drawer System offers unprecedented security. A thick polymer deck covers them, and they cannot be accessed unless they are opened. Each has a separate lock, and cannot be accessed without the key, or some very heavy power tools. We do sell replacement keys, don’t worry.
The entire DECKED Drawer System is designed, built, and sold in the USA as well.
It is also incredibly strong. The DECKED Drawer System allows you to carry just as much cargo in the bed as you did before, only without scratching or denting it.
The DECKED Tool Box – Mobile, Secure, Tool And Gear Storage Without A Topper
The DECKED Tool Box mounts safely and securely behind the cab, directly on the side rails of your truck bed. The DECKED Tool Box provides a strong, weathertight, and supremely secure container for expensive tools, sporting gear, or any other cargo you might not want to slide around in your truck’s bed. It fits virtually every pickup sold in the last ten years, but do check the DECKED website to make sure yours is compatible. It almost certainly is. The Decked Tool Box can even be ordered with a folding ladder inside, helping you access even the tallest truck beds with ease.
The DECKED Tool Box and the DECKED Drawer System are both parts of the DECKED tool organization ecosystem. Accessories like the DECKED D-Box and DECKED Snack Tray small parts containers fit inside both easily, and can be moved from one to the other as needed.
We hope you learned a little about aluminum truck caps in general, some of your purchasing options, and some of the other options companies like DECKED offer you. Remember, when you need truly secure tool and gear transportation and organization, DECKED is the answer.